Happy Valentine’s Day & Happy New Year- sharing some love!

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Happy Valentine’s Day & Happy New Year! Sharing some love & celebration

In this season of love and celebration, the staff at Conjunct would like to share with you something we love & that is very special to us. The three of us – Christina O Hagan (VP – Partners), Natalie Kennedy (DVP – Corporates & Institutions) and Mala Rajpal (VP – External Affairs) – have been with Conjunct since 2015/16. It has been a fantastic experience for us, working with each other and the amazing volunteers of the community. However, today we want to talk a bit about a part of our lives outside of Conjunct.

All three of us have been fortunate to have found and connected with non-profits that are doing great work to better lives in Singapore and in the region. We each have been volunteering with a non-profit of our choice and needless to say, it is something that energizes us, motivates us and has become a very fulfilling part of our lives.

This blog captures the love the three of us have for our volunteer work. We have thoroughly enjoyed putting it together. Hope you enjoy reading it just as much!

Natalie Kennedy – Volunteers at Parents Action for Community and Education (PACE) Singapore
UWC PACE supporting 100schools.org

Natalie at a Library Launch in Myanmar with PACE in support of 100shools.org

For the past several years, I’ve been part of a small all-volunteer organisation based in Singapore which serves underprivileged communities in the region.  My role is co-leading the education projects we support in Myanmar, and I love everything about these projects!

When we bring teams to Myanmar to implement a library or scout new projects, I love introducing new volunteers to our partner organisation, 100schools.org, because it is an amazing organisation doing so much good for so many.  About 20 years ago, founder John Stevens was a Buddhist tourist in Mandalay, and his tri-shaw driver was Maung Maung Gyi, who was an underemployed university graduate. Rather than take payment for the ride, Maung Maung asked if John could help him learn English.  After several years and many more visits, John eventually built a school in Maung’s village, and 100schools.org was born with a vision of helping rural communities overcome the lack of investment in education by the military regime in Myanmar.  Today, Maung is no tri-shaw driver – he’s the very capable GM overseeing the crew of masons and carpenters of 100schools, which has built 60 schools!

My heart is in the library projects, where we work with John and Maung to design, source, and implement libraries.  We recently completed a high school library, and while the day was full of celebration over the new library and its 2,600 books, my favorite moments were standing back and watching the students eagerly select their books.  Following the great commotion of the day, all was serene as students found an inviting nook and got lost for a short while in a book. You could just feel that their hearts were in it.

Christina O Hagan Volunteer at Riders for the Disabled (RDA) Singapore
Riders for the disabled, Singapore

Christina with one of her love – horses!! at the RDA Singapore

Recently, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to combine two of my biggest passions in life – horses and the social service sector, by volunteering with the RDA (Riders for the Disabled) Singapore. The RDA is a fantastic non-profit organisation that provides equine-assisted therapy to over 6000 children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. Through equestrian activities, participants are supported to develop a whole range of life skills, set and achieve personal goals and improve overall quality of life.

Each session is led by the RDA’s riding instructor and each rider is appointed a horse lead and 1 -2 side walkers. My role as a side walker is to act as a bridge between my rider and the instructor, reinforcing the instructor’s directions, while at same time ensuring my rider is relaxed and enjoying the session. Through a variety of fun games and activities, the riders are encouraged to focus on improving their physical and cognitive ability, such as posture, balance, communication skills, spatial awareness, self-esteem etc.

It is an extremely rewarding experience to see the riders develop each week, moving through the activities with greater confidence and taking on new and bigger challenges. This success is certainly driven by the passionate work of the RDA staff, volunteers and of course the RDA’s true stars – the wonderful horses and ponies who so calmly and gently facilitate the whole process.  I feel very proud and privileged to be part of this inspiring organisation.

Mala Rajpal Volunteer at Arts Positive / My Father illustrations
Fathers For Daughters Illustration

An Illustration from My Father illustrations by Debasmita

Last year, I replied to a volunteer call out and ended up meeting the lovely and talented Debasmita Dasgupta who founded Arts Positive in 2016. A non-profit based out of Singapore & India, dedicated to use the medium of art to share positive social stories and create positive social change, Debasmita has created gorgeous illustrative art to talk about some pertinent social issues. The flagship campaign of Arts Positive is My Father illustrations (MFI) where we curate and illustrate powerful stories of how fathers have been instrumental in the empowerment of their daughters despite the social patriarchy surrounding them. These stories are from Africa, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and from many more geographies.

I have been working with MFI and Arts Positive to help build and scale the marketing and communications. Girls rights is a cause I feel very strongly about, hence it was no surprise that I connected almost instantly with the intent of MFI and knew that I had to be a part of it. It has been such an exciting journey so far. It is like exploring a completely new world through this movement. We have recently started a FB Live! Series campaign where we bring powerful voices from people engaged in the area of girls rights and have important conversations with people at large. Hearing from people in India, Africa, Pakistan and Singapore and being associated with them has been so inspiring, so humbling.

As we grow our digital movement alongside initiating on the ground offline projects, I am truly looking forward to helping scale and grow Arts Positive and My Father illustrations.

We hope that like us, you find many things to love and cherish this season. From all of us at Conjunct, a happy Valentine’s Day and a very Happy New Year! 新年快乐!

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